Hard Rock music memorabilia on the move

By Caroline Fontein

In honor of Hard Rock International’s 40th anniversary, the Hard Rock Café launched a music memorabilia tour that will stop in about 32 different cities throughout the summer. Visitors in Vegas can tour the bus today, June 23, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Hard Rock Café located in front of the Hard Rock Hotel. This event is free and open to the public.

The bus features 40 iconic pieces of music memorabilia that were chosen by the Hard Rock curators and by fans on the Hard Rock’s Facebook page. With more than 73,000 items to choose from in the Hard Rock’s collection, the bus features an eclectic mix of both legendary and contemporary pieces.

VEGAS.com had an opportunity to tour the bus and speak with rock historian Jeff Nolan about the collection.

“I wanted to cover a wide spectrum and stay true to music that people had an emotional connection with. I also wanted to sprinkle in a few contemporary pieces,” said Nolan, who has been working as a curator for the Hard Rock for seven years.

Walking through the 53-foot traveling museum is a whirlwind tour through the history of rock ‘n’ roll. Guests get to see an array of items including: a hand-written note by George Harrison to a fan in 1962 to a striped spandex outfit worn by Steven Tyler during Aerosmith’s “Back in the Saddle” tour from 1984 and a dress worn by Katy Perry when she dove on a birthday cake at the 2008 MTV Latin America Awards, all within mere feet of each other.

“The main reason why we have so many iconic pieces and we have a larger collection than any other collector in the world is because we’ve been at it so long… When we started collecting this stuff, we were the only game in town. There was nobody else,” said Nolan.

Next, we get to the custom Gibson Flying V guitar played by Jimi Hendrix at the Isle of Wight festival and in the film “Rainbow Bridge.” It’s surreal to see the same guitar that Hendrix used back in 1970 to play to an audience of more than 600,000 people, now encased in glass for music fans across the country to admire.

“It’s Jimmy Hendrix’s guitar. I really don’t know what else I can think of to say about it. Anyone who comes on this truck and doesn’t realize that that’s a big deal, I’m kind of like, well, I can’t help you,” said Nolan.

Hanging nearby is another show stopper, the red leather jacket with zippers worn by Michael Jackson in his music video for “Beat It.” Nolan explained that stuck to the inside of the jacket is a backstage pass from a Liza Minnelli concert that Jackson attended in 1983. Almost 30 years later, the pass is still there.

“That’s the [display piece] that people have been losing their natural born mind over,” said Nolan.

Check out some photos from the bus:
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